Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Once and Future King

T.H. White's The Once and Future King is supposed to be about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Merlyn and magic, hawks and heraldry, Lancelot and Guinevere, chivalry and Merry Olde England.  It is...but what it's really about is how to go on living in the world in which it was published, 1939.

It is about the tragedy of what happens when hate wins.  It's about jealousy and grudges and original sin.  It tries to explain how Hitler and fascism could take root and threaten to annihilate humankind and snuff out joy.

It's about doing your best, trying to think through insurmountable obstacles.  It's about ordinary people put in extraordinary positions and believing in justice and goodness despite all odds.

I've been reading it all during the month of June for the wonderful GoodReads group TuesBookTalk Read-a-Long.

Wikipedia says it was published as a collected work in 1958, with the composite books published earlier:

The Sword in the Stone - 1939, about the boy Wart, who was trained by Merlyn the magician and eventually pulled Excaliber from the stone in the village square, thereby proving that he was the rightful King of England.  This part totally reminded me of Harry Potter on multiple occasions.
The Queen of Air and Darkness - 1939, about the Orkney clan and their witchy mother Morgause, Arthur's half-sister and mother of Gawaine, Agravaine, Gaheris, Gareth, and Arthur's son, Mordred.
The Ill-Made Knight - 1940, about the greatest, and ugliest, knight in the world, Lancelot and his misbegotten love affair with Arthur's wife, Guinevere.
The Candle in the Wind - 1958, about the civil war that destroyed Camelot and buried all the aspects of civilization that Arthur tried so hard to imprint upon his world.

One of the many things I enjoyed about it was the amalgamation of the various myths and legends of Arthurian Britain.  It is a collection of stories whose narrative thread transforms itself into a powerful tragic arc as the book unfolds.  I loved how the narrator remained firmly rooted in the 20th century and addressed his 20th century readers while discussing the various sources of the legends and the "imaginary" real historical figures such as William the Conqueror and Henry IV and how they fit into Arthurian legend.

Occasionally, I got a bit frustrated with the political rambling but then I think the book was, more than anything else, a coping mechanism for dealing with the mad, mad world of the 20th century.

It's definitely a book worth reading--it was immensely popular, touched a deep nerve, represented hope, attempted to explain evil, and wrapped all those feelings up in warm blanket of mythological familiarity, not just with Arthurian legend but Greek and Roman tragedy.

La Mort d'Arthur (The Death of King Arthur) by James Archer (1860)
I've been toying with the idea of classifying this book as a Classic.  I think it's in that category for me--it will be read and studied and enjoyed and discussed for a long time to come. It is well written.  It is of its time but timeless as well.  Thoughts?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

When In Rome

As part of my prep for my trip to Italy this fall, I read a wonderful little mystery, When in Rome, by Ngaio Marsh. First published in 1971, it is quite dated in some ways--no cell phones, being the main gadget missing from the character's lives, and a preponderance of 1960's era swinger slang--but in terms of atmosphere and geography and setting, it was perfect.

This is a Roderick Alleyn mystery--my first time meeting this suave British police detective--but I'm sure it won't be my last.  He is charming, clever, and fun to be around.

The setting is Rome, of course. Dame Ngaio Marsh has set her story in the Basilica of San Clemente, but changed the name. Not exactly sure why, but I loved looking up places that Alleyn and the other characters visit in the course of the novel.

In a nutshell, the story revolves around a murder that happens during a special tour of the basilica by a motley crew of mostly British tourists with a Dutch couple thrown into the mix, and it reminded me a lot of an Agatha Christie mystery.

I enjoyed the mystery--didn't figure it out but loved how it worked out in the end.  Adored the setting and now have the Basilica of San Clemente on my must-see list for Rome.

I can recommend When In Rome for mystery lovers, for those who are nostalgic for the 1960's and that "mod swinging scene," and for those who dream of visiting Rome and exploring the layers of history in the Eternal City.

Basilica of San Clemente

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

Readers tend to love bookstores as well as books about books.  Lewis Buzbee's The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is first and foremost a love story.  It is about reading, hanging out with readers, talking about books, learning about books, and generally living a book-based life.  On some level, my fellow bloggers, isn't that what we all aspire to?

I ended up tweeting about this book a lot as Buzbee knows how to turn a phrase.  Here's a selection of the quotes that I tweeted:

"Books are slow. They require time. They are written slowly, published slowly, and read slowly."
"From its inception, the English coffeehouse is one of the most innovative and democratic forums in Europe."
 "The difference between writers and authors, John Steinbeck once said, is that authors appear on the Today Show."
"The form and expense of the medieval book had as much to do with the shrinking tide of knowledge as with the church's censorship."
 "How do you press a wild flower into the pages of an e-book?"
"...complaining has never been a solid business plan."

I loved reading about the various bookstores that Buzbee has worked in.  I loved reading about the history of books--from the development of binding and paper to the itinerant bookseller to the marriage of the coffeehouse to the bookstore.  I enjoyed hearing Buzbee's optimism (in stark contrast to the usual gloom and doom stuff) regarding the future of reading, books, and readers.

I think the best thing about The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is the energy that Buzbee imparts--here is a fellow reader writing about something that defines him as a person, and that happens to be something I can relate to...the love of reading.

This is the book you want to give as a gift to other readers.  This is the book you want to take with you when you travel so that you can visit all the wonderful bookstores that Buzbee writes about.

All I can say is Read On!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women

In May, I read Harriet Reisen's excellent biography of Louisa May Alcott, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, and have to say that of the three bios I have read of LMA, I think I enjoyed this one the most.

I began, knowing the story of LMA's life, feeling that old frustration with her father, A. Bronson Alcott.  In the other bios, Eden's Outcasts by John Matteson and Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante, Bronson is really portrayed unsympathetically as someone who simply would not rise up to his familial responsibilities and work to support his family regardless of his personal aspirations to be a thinking man.

Reisen, early in the book, suggests that Bronson suffered from a mental illness that prevented him from acting differently than he did.  I still found him frustrating and gritted my teeth when he scolded LMA for her shortcomings (in his eyes), but I found myself understanding him better and especially understanding better LMA's forgiveness and tenderness towards him as their lives drew to a close  For that alone, I am glad I read this book.

The other thing this bio gave me that the others did not was an appreciation for her other works (i.e., other than Little Women) and a desire to read some of her potboilers.  In fact, I just received a copy of Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott, which is an anthology of some of the better sensationalist stories she published.  I've been mulling over what to read for the Back to the Classic challenge in the category of Forgotten Classic, and I think this should fit the bill nicely.

It makes sense that this bio would inspire me to read more of LMA's works as it does set out to tell the story of how Louey. as her mother called her, became a successful and renowned and beloved author.   I enjoyed reading the notes that LMA as an adult wrote in the margins of her own letters and journals and stories from her youth.  We are so lucky that even though she burnt a good deal of her personal writing, she kept much for posterity to study and enjoy.

I came away from this bio with a renewed admiration for LMA--her courage, her wit, her fortitude, and her talent.  She struggled with identity, but in the end, was able to accomplish what she set out for herself.  Truly a remarkable person.

Now I'm eager to watch the documentary, with the same name, that Reisen helped produce and wrote.  It features Jane Alexander as LMA.  Here she is during one of her runs, in which she tries to use up some excess energy.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Reading Guide to Italy

I've been talking about a leisure trip to Italy for years now, and it looks like this Fall I will actually succeed. I've been to Milan a few times on business, but I had zero sightseeing time, so it's almost as if I haven't really visited Italy yet.

Anyway, I really like to read books about places I visit, fiction and non-fiction, so I've been quietly ignoring my reading lists for 2015, and compiling an alternate list of what I hope to read before my big adventure.

I just read book #15 in the Guido Brunetti series by Donna Leon, set in Venice, and which I love, but I wanted a broader fare:
An Italian Education by Tim Parks
Christ Stopped At Eboli by Carlo Levi
Ratking by Michael Dibdin
When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh
Italy in Mind, an anthology of writings from Lord Byron to Edith Wharton to Susan Sontag
Vivaldi's Virgins, by Barbara Quick
The Man Who Became Caravaggio, by Peter Robb
My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone (novel about Michelangelo)
The Italians, by John Hooper
The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano, Bk 1) by  Andrea CamilleriStephen Sartarelli (Translator)

I would like to reread Death in Venice, by Thomas Mann (one of my all-time favorite novellas), and something by Henry James (not The Aspern Papers, which I've already read and didn't care for).
I am totally open to other suggestions.  What evokes Italy, past and present, most for you?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Seven Years a Blogging

I am totally dependent on my Outlook calendar to tell me important dates, appointments, tasks, and what-not.

Today's to-do list included a reminder that I launched my blog on May 27, 2008!  That's seven years ago, if counting on my fingers can be relied upon (I'm an English major, you do the math!).

Anyway, I just wanted to take a minute to note the day and say how much I love blogging...mostly about books and reading and writing, but also sharing my travel adventures, quilting projects, gardening aspirations, and general love of life and nature.

I've met a host of wonderful internet friends via my blog, and cannot express enough how much I love chatting about books with you and broadening my world by reading your posts.

I feel truly blessed to have this outlet for my musings--truly a portal to the world.

Monday, May 25, 2015

When Christ and His Saints Slept: Book 1 in Plantagenet series

I absolutely love the historical novels of Sharon Kay Penman.  I read The Sunne in Splendour, with Richard III as the hero, a year or so ago, but then decided to read the Plantagenet series (5 books in all) in chronological order (i.e., when the action takes place, not when Penman wrote them).  First up, was When Christ and His Saints Slept.

Here's the Amazon blurb to set the stage:
A.D. 1135. As church bells tolled for the death of England's King Henry I, his barons faced the unwelcome prospect of being ruled by a woman: Henry's beautiful daughter Maude, Countess of Anjou. But before Maude could claim her throne, her cousin Stephen seized it. In their long and bitter struggle, all of England bled and burned.
The book took me awhile to complete.  At 746 pages, it's not a slender book, and it's fairly dense with lots of characters and battles to keep track of.  That said, it's very readable, engaging, exciting, and interesting.

I confess that I went into the book not knowing much about the time between when Maude and Stephen's grandfather, William the Conqueror (aka the Bastard), invaded England in 1066 and when Henry II unwittingly had Thomas Becket murdered in the cathedral.  This book filled in most of the gaps, and did so in fine historical fiction style.

Here are a few things I particularly enjoyed:

* The story of the sinking of the White Ship--one of biggest tragedies in English history.  The sole surviving male heir of Henry I drowned in the English Channel shortly after his ship set sail from Barfleur.  Henry then named his daughter Maude as his heir, but this was fraught with problems, leading to the civil war which ravaged Britain for 20 years.

* Ranulf, one of the few characters in the novel who is not based on a historical personage.  He was one of Henry I's many illegitimate sons, and a sweet, loyal, fun-loving young man who matures into a wonderful man in the course of the story.

* Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II - I know them mostly from the magnificent movie, The Lion in Winter, which shows them later in life, battling royal and using their sons as pawns in their power play.  But the Eleanor and Henry (aka Harry) of this book are young, passionate, clever, and well-matched.  It was such a treat to read about their early years before things began to sour.

* Geography, castles, and rivers - I kept on looking up place names on my iPad while I read, and I feel like I have a much better feel for how medieval campaigns worked.

* A better understanding of why Henry VIII was so obsessed with siring a legitimate son.  England was literally torn apart by barons who did not want to have a woman as their monarch.  Right or wrong, this book illustrates the reality of what it meant to be a leader in the Middle Ages.

The next book in the series is Time and Chance, which continues the story of Eleanor and Henry II and Thomas Becket.

This book is part of my TBR Pile, Mount TBR, and Historical Fiction challenges.  Three birds, one book!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer...Giveaway...International!

Winner Announcement:

The 10th person to comment, Silver De, is the lucky winner of Young Jane Austen: Becoming an Author.  She has sent me her address and the book will be mailed to her shortly.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my blog, read the review, and left a comment!

Like the subject of her book, Lisa Pliscou's Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer is short and sweet.  It provides a fictional account of Austen from birth to twelve years old, when Pliscou states that Austen was on the brink of launching herself as an author, having had the luck to be born into a family that nurtured her natural gifts.

The chapters are very short--sometimes little more than a paragraph or two--written from the point-of-view of a child describing her world as it slowly comes into focus and expands and contracts with the flow of life and the life of the family.Not much is known about Austen's early years, and so Pliscou uses modern psychological thinking to thoughtfully speculate on how Austen might have responded to the few known circumstances of her life as a child, given her later works and words.

While I was expecting to see young Jane putting pen to paper with her Juvenilia, in ending where she does, Pliscou makes the point that Austen's earliest years put her firmly on the path to literary prowess.

The book is beautifully constructed, with lovely simple drawings of Jane and her family dotting the pages.  It is a quick read, even when you read the annotations and biographical details, and bibliography.  I read it on a short flight between Denver and Phoenix, and found it satisfying.  Covering familiar ground but also providing insights into why and how Austen was able to tap vast reservoirs of creativity to become the Austen we know and love.

The author has graciously provided me with a second copy to give-away on my blog --the first copy will be shared with my JASNA group in Denver/Boulder.  For more info on the book, visit Lisa Pliscou's website.

If you would like to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below and provide your contact info.  The giveaway is open internationally, and I will accept entries through 8 pm MT on Sunday, May 24.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Comparing Framley Parsonage to Pride and Prejudice

A few years ago, my regional JASNA organization had a meeting in which we looked at how Jane Austen influenced other writers.  I tackled Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, and blogged about my thoughts in these posts:

A friend of mine and fellow Janeite, Maxene, gave a paper comparing Trollope’s Framely Parsonage with Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  After finishing Framely Parsonage and posting about it, I reread Maxene’s paper and thought it so good that I got her permission to post it on my blog.

So, for your reading pleasure, courtesy of Maxene…
[Spoiler alert - Maxene does summarize the plot in her paper below]


Attributing literary influence is always difficult. We’ve seen that even with all the similarities between North and South and Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Gaskell never did acknowledge being influenced by Jane Austen.

With Anthony Trollope, it’s a far different matter. Trollope’s novelist mother, Fanny Trollope, loved to read Austen’s works and they were widely read in the Trollope household by the entire family.

When Anthony was nineteen, he stated that Pride and Prejudice was the best novel in the English language. He retained his high opinion of Jane Austen throughout his life. So, we may very well ask: was Trollope thinking of Pride and Prejudice when he wrote Framley Parsonage  in 1859-60?

Framley Parsonage, fourth novel in Trollope’s Barchester Chronicles, is typically Victorian with multiple interconnecting plots. I’ll give a summary before turning to an analysis. One plot in the novel involves Mark Robarts, a young vicar living at Framley Parsonage with his wife, Fanny. Mark was given the living by his school friend, Lord Ludovic Lufton, who lives at Framley Park with his mother, Lady Lufton, the reigning social matriarch of the neighborhood. Mark, trying to climb the social ladder, foolishly signs a guarantee for the villainous Mr. Sowerby, the local MP. He eventually faces financial ruin and social scandal when he cannot pay this debt.

The second plot concerns Lucy Robarts, Mark’s sister, a petite, rather plain young woman, who comes to live with Mark and Fanny at the Parsonage. Lord Lufton, after some initial hesitancy,  falls in love with Lucy, seriously displeasing his mother, Lady Lufton, who has already made an arrangement with the Archdeacon’s wife, Mrs. Grantley, whereby Ludovic would marry Griselda Grantley, beautiful, but shallow and insipid.  Lady Lufton tells her son: “She (Lucy) is not of that class from which I would have you choose.” Ludovic, however, proposes to Lucy and she, knowing of his mother’s hostility, refuses him, for his sake, and lies to him about her love for him. Lucy declares that she will marry Ludovic only if his mother asks her to do so.

It isn’t until Lucy has shown her real mettle by caring for the critically-ill Mrs. Crawley, wife of a poverty-stricken curate, thus endangering her own life to save that poor woman’s, that Lady Lufton realizes Lucy’s strength of character and her worthiness to marry Ludovic. Lady Lufton then goes to the Crawley cottage and asks Lucy to marry her son.

Just from this short summary, we can see some similarities with Pride and Prejudice.

When we look further, we can see that there are similarities in the financial positions of the two heroines. Both Lucy and Lizzy are poor, Lucy even poorer than Lizzy and also an orphan. And note the similar names as well. Neither young woman is considered to be a beauty, Lizzy being compared unfavorably to her much prettier sister,  Jane,  and Lucy to the elegant but heartless Griselda Grantley.

Secondly, there is a putative pre-arranged marriage in both novels. Lady Catherine and Lady Anne Darcy supposedly had committed their progeny “while in their cradles” to a life together while Lady Lufton and Mrs. Grantley have decided that their children should wed.

Thirdly, unequal marriages play a part in both novels. Lord Lufton is aristocratic and wealthy, and we know that Mr. Darcy has at least 10,00 pounds a year. But here is where there is a great difference between the two novels. Trollope, the Victorian, acceded to his era’s conventional wisdom that an unequal marriage, based on social position and wealth, would lead to misery since the young lady would never be able to fit into an elevated society and to fulfill her social responsibilities. To that conventional wisdom, Austen would say: “Ha!” Austen’s idea of an unequal marriage is inequality of intellect. Conventional wisdom would applaud Lucy’s refusal of Ludovic’s proposal as well as Lizzy’s of Mr. Darcy’s first, but, as we know, Austen did not have Elizabeth refuse Darcy because of any perceived social inequality, but rather because of his treatment of Jane and Wickham.

The real difference between the novels is expressed in the two scenes between Lady Lufton and Lucy  on the one hand and of Lady Catherine and Lizzy on the other.  We recall that Lizzy rejects Lady Catherine’s attempts to paint her as a polluter of the shades of Pemberley.”He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter,” she affirms and she refuses to promise never to enter into a betrothal with Mr. Darcy. Lizzy also says these important words: “And with regard to the resentment of his family, or the indignation of the world, if the former were excited by his marrying me, it would not give me one moment’s concern—and the world in general would have too much sense to join in the scorn.”

But in Lucy’s scene with Lady Lufton, she says the following: “ I could not endure to come into this house as your son’s wife, and be coldly looked on by your son’s mother. Much as I loved him, much as I do love him, dearly as I prize the generous offer which he came down here to repeat to me, I could not live with him to be made the object of your scorn. I sent him word, therefore, that I would have him when you would ask me, and not before.”   The narrator states that Lady Lufton:  “did sympathize with her, and admire her, and to a certain extent like her….and to feel that but for certain unfortunate concomitant circumstances the girl before her might have made a fitting Lady Lufton.” Lucy acts out of pride, yes, but a different type of pride from Lizzy’s. As the narrator states: “strong as her love was yet her pride was perhaps stronger.” Lucy bows down to social convention—She will not go where she is not welcomed.

Fourthly, both Lizzy  and Lucy underestimate their lovers. When Darcy leaves the inn at Lambton, Lizzy believes she will never see him again.  With Lydia’s situation resolved without scandal, she regrets Darcy’s having known about it since she thinks he would never renew his offer to someone related to Wickham. However, as we know, Darcy has raced to the rescue for Lizzy’s sake and done so altruistically, not wishing her to know what he has done.

In Framley Parsonage, Ludovic, too, acts faithfully and heroically. He, unfortunately, must suffer another rejected proposal by Lucy, but he also rescues a family member. He redeems Mark’s debts, blaming himself for not warning Mark about Sowerby’s machinations, and thus saves Mark from financial ruin.

In both novels, there is a theme of indebtedness, albeit less strong in Pride and Prejudice. Darcy, in trying to keep from Lizzy knowledge of his part in saving Lydia, doesn’t want her to incur any debt to him. When he renews his proposal, he wishes her acceptance to be free and open and not clouded by her gratitude. Lucy, by insisting that Lady Lufton ask her to marry Ludovic, wants to be welcomed into her new family without feeling indebted.

With Ludovic’s paying of Mark’s debts, the two plots of Framley Parsonage—the church-related and the courtship, come together. Pamela Regis, in her History of the Romance Novel, writes that the “Lucy-Ludovic plot reproduces the thematic concerns of the church plot with the elements of the romance novel.” Both plots hinge on the unpayable debt.

In her Persuasions article: Pride and Prejudice and Framley Parsonage: A StructuralResemblance, Barbara Horwitz summarizes the similarities between the two novels: “the lovers’ unequal social and economic situations, their initial disdain for each other, an overbearing and interfering older female relative, a sibling in need of rescue, the initial proposal and refusal, the heroine’s surprise at the moral worth and constancy of the hero, a second, more favorably received proposal, suspicion that the heroine’s motives are mercenary, and the eventual marriage and settling down happily on the family property.”

The basic difference between the two novels is in their respective heroines.  Trollope wrote in the Victorian period. His heroine is more restricted, as is the period in which she was created. Elizabeth Bennet is a product of the  less strait-laced Regency society as well as being the creation of a more socially rebellious author who, in Pride and Prejudice, defies the accepted social conventions.

After Trollope’s death, an article in the Spectator linked the two authors: “The loss of Mr. A. Trollope makes us turn back from his long series of elaborate pictures of English society…to those in which Miss Austen painted the rural society of England during the end of the last and beginning of the present century.” In a Persuasions article by Pamela Neville-Sington: Jane Austen and the Trollopes, the author concludes: “Anthony Trollope was his mother’s son, but he preferred to be thought of as Jane Austen’s literary successor.”


Thank you, Maxene, for that terrific article.  Now let's go back to reading Austen!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Framley Parsonage

Well, I finally finished Framley Parsonage, fourth novel in the Anthony Trollope Barsetshire series.  I've been reading it all month, and I chose April to read it in because April 24 was the bicentennial of Trollope's birth.  I actually liked it very much until the ending.  My problem is that I found the final 20 pages to be unrelentingly tedious.

Trollope resolved the main story thread, that of Mark Robarts' financial difficulties and the romance between Lucy Robarts and Lord Ludovic, very nicely in chapter 46, "Lady Lofton's Request," but then he went on with two more seemingly endless chapters, neatly tying off and tucking in all the other loose story threads.  I think the other threads could've been dealt with in two pages, and if so, I would have come away from the book satisfied and happy.  As it is, all I can remember is how desperately boring I found the final stage of the book.

Perhaps I am more of a modern reader than I think I am, but I tend to like stories that aren't totally put to bed at the end.  And, in a series like this, the stories don't need to be completely resolved because we're presumably going to encounter some of the characters again in the subsequent novels.

Anyway, enough grousing.

I've blogged twice about the book before.
Characters you can relate to
First impressions

I found myself thinking about George Eliot's Middlemarch a good deal whilst reading Framley Parsonage.   Mark Robarts finds himself head over heels in debt, just as Dr. Lydgate does in Middlemarch.  The way they get into debt is much different and how their wives react couldn't be more different, but the moral and ethical dilemmas that both men face were similar.

I also couldn't help thinking about Gaskell's My Lady Ludlow when I read about Lady Lofton, and I kept on picturing Francesca Annis as she appeared as Lady Ludlow in the Cranford BBC series.

I recently heard that Julian Fellowes, who has blessed us with Downton Abbey, is going to be doing an adaptation of Dr. Thorne--the third novel in the series--and I hope that he makes it a double feature, and continues Dr. Thorne's story through to its logical conclusion in Framley Parsonage. My dear Dr. Thorne doesn't shown up in Framley Parsonage until the last third, but I enjoy his character so much that I did a little happy dance when he did make it on the scene.  I think there's quite enough material in these two books for at least a good six episodes of a mini-series.  And I don't think Fellowes could resist bringing Lucy Robarts to the screen--the only problem would be that she would steal the show from Mary Thorne, Dr. Thorne's niece, and the heroine of Dr. Thorne.

My prediction for who could play Miss Dunstable, one of my favorite characters in both books, is the incomparable Emma Thompson.

Framley Parsonage is part of my 2015 Back to the Classics challenge, filling the 19th century category.